How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog)

( 2 )

Overview


Nicky Flynn’s life just got a whole lot harder. His parents are going through a messy divorce, and as a result he’s starting a new life, in a new city, in a new school. Now his mom has brought home Reggie, an eighty-pound German shepherd fresh from the animal shelter, who used to be a seeing-eye dog. At first Nick isn’t sure about this canine intrusion—it’s just another in a series of difficult changes. Soon, however, Nick is on the path to finding out why a seeing-eye dog would be left at an animal shelter, and...
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Overview


Nicky Flynn’s life just got a whole lot harder. His parents are going through a messy divorce, and as a result he’s starting a new life, in a new city, in a new school. Now his mom has brought home Reggie, an eighty-pound German shepherd fresh from the animal shelter, who used to be a seeing-eye dog. At first Nick isn’t sure about this canine intrusion—it’s just another in a series of difficult changes. Soon, however, Nick is on the path to finding out why a seeing-eye dog would be left at an animal shelter, and along the way discovers that Reggie is a true friend that Nick can rely on. But when he tries to reconnect with his dad, Nick puts everything on the line, including the life of his new best friend.

Art Corriveau is a brilliant new voice for middle-grade fiction. How I, Nicky Flynn, Got a Life (and a Dog) is a heartfelt and honest look at the effects of divorce and the wonders of friendship.

F&P Level: T
F&P Genre: RF

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This touching and engrossing story stars 11-year-old Nicky, whose parents have just split up, forcing him to move with his troubled mother to a tiny apartment in Boston. Despite having difficulty making ends meet, Nicky’s mother brings home another mouth to feed: Reggie, a former guide dog. While Nicky is at first dismayed by his new companion, he quickly grows to rely on him, particularly since he is having a hard time integrating at his new school, and his father neither calls nor visits. With Reggie leading the way, Nicky visits the haunts of the dog’s former owner and tries to figure out why Reggie landed at the pound. But the web of lies he tells in the process grows out of control, and ultimately he must face up to the truth and accept the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. In his first book for young readers, Corriveau (Housewrights) includes cultural and geographical facts about Boston without weighing the story down. Nicky should appeal to readers who have had troubles at home or have struggled to fit in. Ages 8-12. (May)
Publishers Weekly
This touching and engrossing story stars 11-year-old Nicky, whose parents have just split up, forcing him to move with his troubled mother to a tiny apartment in Boston. Despite having difficulty making ends meet, Nicky’s mother brings home another mouth to feed: Reggie, a former guide dog. While Nicky is at first dismayed by his new companion, he quickly grows to rely on him, particularly since he is having a hard time integrating at his new school, and his father neither calls nor visits. With Reggie leading the way, Nicky visits the haunts of the dog’s former owner and tries to figure out why Reggie landed at the pound. But the web of lies he tells in the process grows out of control, and ultimately he must face up to the truth and accept the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. In his first book for young readers, Corriveau (Housewrights) includes cultural and geographical facts about Boston without weighing the story down. Nicky should appeal to readers who have had troubles at home or have struggled to fit in. Ages 8–12. (May)
Children's Literature - Cathi I. White
Nicky Flynn has it all—a nice home, a family, a good school, and friends. That suddenly changes, however, when his mom and dad divorce. Now Nicky has nothing, or so he believes. Not only does he have to live with his mom in a way-too-small apartment, but he also has to go to a new school where he knows absolutely no one. On top of that, his mom brings home a new dog, Reggie, which Nicky does not like. Could life get any worse for Nicky? But troubles do not stop there. The dog causes problems in the apartment. The landlord is not happy. His mom lies and spends her time sulking and watching television. Nicky does not get along with anyone in school, and a bully and his posse are after him. Then his mom makes him take care of a stupid dog he did not want in the first place. Life for this middle school boy does not seem to be fair. Things start to change in a mysterious sort of way, however, when he walks Reggie daily and finds out that Reggie has had a different past, too. Nicky discovers that Reggie's past is a bit secretive, and it intrigues him enough to work like a detective to uncover more details. Readers will be fascinated with this exciting, fun-filled book that will keep their attention through the unexpected things that happen to Nicky and Reggie. Reviewer: Cathi I. White
Judith Hayn
Nicky Flynn is almost 11 when his world capsizes. Mom and Dad divorce and sell his suburban home. Mom rents a one-bedroom dumpy apartment in a seedy section of Boston, and he starts sixth grade in a new school. He is sure his mom is lying about why his dad isn't seeing or calling him. Mom brings home Reggie, a guide dog who didn't make the grade, and Nicky comes to rely on the German shepherd. Nicky lies, breaks into homes and cars, and commits other misdeeds in order to be with Reggie. Nicky is in many ways typical of kids who are thrust into situations they don't understand. He just wants to fit in at school and can't seem to get anything right. He eventually runs away from home, and his life on the lam is a page-turner for tweens who crave action and adventure. Reviewer: Judith Hayn
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Nicky and his mother live in a tiny apartment in a less-than-affluent area near Boston since his parents separated. She says he acts more like a 40-year-old man than an 11-year-old boy. In the area of behaving responsibly, she's probably right. One night, instead of dinner, she brings home a former seeing-eye dog with a mysterious past, but Nicky doesn't want him. During their walks, Reggie tries to go in certain directions, so Nicky finally lets him, hoping to discover his former owner and why Reggie was at the pound. He meets new people, becomes familiar with a new neighborhood, and discovers some of the dog's history. Nicky also tries to fit into a new school with tough kids and is confused and hurt that his dad doesn't see him on weekends. The story is told in the authentic voice of a boy who is dealing with too much upheaval in his life, including his mother's depression about her new lifestyle. What he thinks and actually says are often poles apart, but kids will immediately pick up on the difference. There are a few crude words and the action drags a bit in the middle, but young people, especially those who have had to take on responsibility at home, will enjoy the story.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
Kirkus Reviews
Reeling from his parents' separation, his move from a comfortable suburban home and perennially postponed visits with his father, almost-12-year-old Nicky Flynn begins a log to record his mother's "lying" when she brings home a former seeing-eye dog to share their tiny apartment in Charlestown, near Boston. Instead, he ends up chronicling his own growing acceptance of his new situation and love for the dog, Reggie. Through his investigation of Reggie's background, he comes to recognize how she's shut his eyes to what had been going on around him and also what it would be like to be truly blind. There's a lot going on in this story: making new friends, adjusting to school and family changes, dealing with flawed parents, even the training of guide dogs. Corriveau weaves in interesting information about Boston's Freedom Trail and provides significant suspense when Nicky and Reggie actually run away. Nicky's first-person narration tends to make light of his own anger-management issues, but readers will applaud when he comes to recognize and control them. An appealing boy-and-dog story. (Fiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810982987
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 404,346
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 670L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Art Corriveau’s first novel, Housewrights, was for adults and was published by Penguin in 2002. Library Journal called it “one of the better debut novels of [the] year,” while Publishers Weekly said “Corriveau is a smooth, evocative writer who creates engaging character.” His adult short fiction has been anthologized in literary journals in the United States, the UK, and Canada, and as a travel writer he has lived in and written about Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Thailand, and Hong Kong. He holds an MFA in writing from the University of Michigan and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2010

    A real kid for once!

    This is such a refreshing and fun take on a real boy in the real world, who is trying to cope with his parent's recent divorce and his mother's descent into depression. Funny and clever, the main character, Nicky Flynn finds himself the owner of a very special dog that you instantly love and see as Nicky's savior. Nicky begins to reinvent his life through real and made-up adventures with his dog.

    I love the true-to-life sarcasm Nicky has (so perfect for his age) and I think so many children will avidly follow the gripping tale of Nicky and his dog getting into (and out of) sticky situations! Kids will also appreciate seeing a child who face some complicated family problems without warning or preparation.

    This book is such a nice combination of exciting plot and soulful content. Just great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 11, 2010

    a(nother) book about a boy and his dog

    Nicky Flynn is eleven years old (P.S.-eleven and three fourths) and in the sixth grade. His parents have just gone through a messy divorce. His nice house in suburban Littleton, MA, has been sold. His dad has moved into an apartment in Littleton, and he and his mom have moved to Charlestown, just outside of Boston, for her new job, so he has to go to a new school and try to make new friends. Nicky misses his dad, who is supposed to see him a couple of weekends a month, and he is sure that his mom is lying when she tells him that his dad has called or texted or emailed to say that he has a sales meeting in Vegas, or colleagues visiting from out of town, or the flu.
    Then Nicky's mom goes out and brings home an eighty pound German shepherd named Reggie from the animal shelter. While taking Reggie for a walk in Monument Park, he meets three old guys from the veterans home playing bocce who recognize Reggie as their blind friend Alf Santorello's guide dog. Trying to find out why a guide dog was taken to the animal shelter, Nicky goes around Alf's neighborhood with Reggie pretending to Alf's grandson. Then things blow up between him and his mom. After she goes to give Nicky a high five Reggie attacks her and she says that he's going back to the animal shelter. So Nicky runs away with Reggie to find his dad, walking part of the Boston Freedom Trail in the process. But Reggie gets injured on the way. Will Nicky make it to his father's place? Will he work out things with his mom? And will Reggie be all right?
    Written as if told by Nicky himself, this is a very interesting story that will hold the reader's attention. Plus there's some information about the Boston Freedom Trail. At first Nicky comes across as a smart-mouthed kid, but he learns some very important lessons about both himself and others, especially how to cope with disappointments in life. There are some cursing and profanity (the "d" and "h" words are found occasionally and "God" is used as an interjection) and even a little vulgarity (the terms "pi** and a** are used). Both dog and human "pee" along with dog "poop" are mentioned. Nicky says that a boy "gives me the finger," and his mother watches a television show that she says is too mature for him because of "making out"-but they continue watching it anyway. Also there is a scene where a girl dives for a kickball, and her skirt bunches up around her waist so that everyone can see her underpants. Some people may not have a problem with these things, but many parents would probably at least like to know about them. Also Nicky's mom seems to have a little problem with her wine, but in the end she decides to work on it. Young people who have faced divorce or dysfunctional family situations will probably be able to identify with Nicky.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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